Barely a month after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the timetable for the 2019 general elections, the House of Representatives has amended the Electoral Act to change the order of elections.
With the latest amendment, the National Assembly election is to hold first, followed by gubernatorial and state assembly with the presidential election billed to be conducted last.
The amendment was effected yesterday at the committee of the whole, presided over by Deputy Speaker, Hon. Suleiman Yussuff Lasun, while considering the report of the House Committee on Electoral Matters on the proposed amendment to the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). In the timetable released by INEC, the presidential and National Assembly elections are to hold first, while the governorship and state assembly follow.
The House amended section 25 of the principal act and substituted it with a new section 25 (1) which reads: “Elections into the office of the president and vice president, the governor and deputy governor of a state, and to the membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and House of Assembly of each state of the federation shall be held in the following order (a) National Assembly elections (b) State Houses of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) presidential elections.”
Similarly, section 87 was amended by adding a new section 87 (11) with a marginal note “time for primaries of political parties” (a) the primaries of political parties shall follow the following sequence (i) State House of Assembly (ii) National Assembly (iii) Governorship (iv) president. “The dates for the above stated primaries shall not be held earlier than one hundred and twenty days and not later than 90 days before the date of elections to the offices.”
The House also amended section 36 to allow running mate of any candidate that dies before the conclusion of elections inherit his votes and continue with the process.
According to the new section 36 (3), “If during the commencement of the poll, but before the conclusion of the elections for the office of the president or governor of a state, one of the nominated candidates of a political party dies, the commission shall allow the running mate, that is the party’s vice presidential candidate or deputy gubernatorial candidate to continue and conclude the poll and should he score the majority of the votes cast in accordance with the constitution, be declared the winner of the said election.”
Relatedly, the House amended section 35 and provided that if before election a candidate dies, he will be replaced by the next contestant with the highest vote. “Where a nominated candidate dies in the circumstances stated under subsection (1) of this section, the next person, from the same political party where the deceased emerged, with the second highest votes in the primary election shall be submitted to the commission to replace the deceased, and the commission shall accept such replacement as if the deceased is alive,” the amendment stated.
Also amended was section 143 with a new section 3 providing that “where the nomination of an elected candidate is nullified by the court and notice of appeal against the decision is given within the stipulated period for appeal, the elected candidate shall not, withstanding the contrary decision of the court, remain in office pending the determination of appeal.
“If the court determines that the candidate was not validly nominated, the elected candidate shall, notwithstanding the contrary decision of the court, remain in office within the period an appeal may be filed; and shall not be sanctioned for the benefits he derived while in office pursuant to this section.”
The House also effected an increment in the limitation of election expenses to be incurred by candidates for presidential candidates from N1 billion to N5 billion; governorship from N200 million to N1 billion; while Senatorial and Representatives candidates are not to exceed N100 million and N70 million respectively. For State Assembly and chairmanship elections, candidates’ expenses have been raised from N10 million to N30 million while councillorship candidates’ ceiling has been raised from N1 million to N5 million. Similarly, individual contribution has been jacked up from N1 million to N10 million.